… although I didn’t realise at the time!
Annie Nightingale (MBE), Britain’s first female DJ on Radio 1 and Sound Women patron, reflects on her career and offers reassuring advice:
1. I was a very, very junior reporter for an agency, who rarely had the chance to get out of the office to follow up a story, so I had to do it all on the phone. Although I was still really an arty, scruffy student who wore blue nail polish, I had to sound trustworthy, responsible and grown-up. I had to persuade people to talk to a complete stranger. I had absolutely no training whatsoever in radio broadcasting.
2. There were no women DJs when I started. I had no one to copy. Maybe that was a good thing, because you need to be genuinely ‘real’ and completely sincere to be a broadcaster. Listeners can spot a fake straight away IMHO. The problem is having enough self-confidence to believe that anyone actually wants to hear YOU. Though, of course, it helps initially to hear someone who inspires you.
3. Don’t be put off. If you really, really want to broadcast, I am sure you will find a way. Be prepared to adapt and learn and improve. You can do that talking to yourself. Or reading a news bulletin aloud to yourself. Practise.
4. Record yourself doing interviews, then play them back and be your own sternest critic. Do you interrupt too often? Do you say ‘erm’ or ‘um’ too much? Do you keep saying ‘yes’ or ‘of course’ in an interview, when you must learn to shut up, and just nod.
5. If you have specialist knowledge, use it. It may be music, or the law, or gardening, but if you know your subject and can talk authoritatively about it, you will always find people keen to put you on air.
Annie Nightingale will be appearing at our Meet the Patrons event on 26th September 2014. More info and tickets here.